Addressing the Social Determinants of Health: 1 Month at the Ada Jenkins Center

In the second week of my fellowship at the Ada Jenkins Center, I reached out to the Director of Impact and Engagement to formulate ways to increase patient numbers at the clinic. The clinic had recently stopped seeing patients from Moorseville, 30% of their patients, as the Center moved to just focus on Davidson, Cornelius, and Huntersville. Excited by the initiative I was taking, she formed a mission team of the two of us, the Director of Workforce Development, and the Director of Coordinated Services to work towards that goal. Among the many takeaways I got from our first meeting was how humbling it was. I have volunteered at the clinic for three years, and my current fellowship focuses on the clinic. To me, Ada had always been the clinic, first. Working with the directors of the different departments at the center was a shock to my system, and broadened my view. At Ada, the clinic is only biweekly and is not the focus point of the center, as it always had been to me. This shift in perspective was initially jarring, but working in the team taught me to readjust my goals and expectations. I had come into the meeting with plans centered primarily around the clinic, and I now had to be sure to integrate diverse perspectives and objectives into a common goal that would help not just the clinic, but the center as a whole.

While I am still on the fringe of the Davidson Bubble working here (I am a couple minutes away from the college and I do see Davidson College volunteers all the time, after all), I have begun to appreciate just how tight it’s hold is. It took me leaving Davidson College and beginning to work here for me to realize Ada’s mission was so much greater than just the clinic. The Center’s mission reads, “The Ada Jenkins Center exists to help people in our community create lasting solutions for health, education, and economic stability.” Much of my early work at the clinic has revolved around helping the clinic meet these goals for our patients.

Much of my planning is still very much in the early stages, but we are hoping to implement changes soon that will begin to make Thursday clinic nights an opportunity for patients to find lasting solutions for many of their goals. Soon, we hope to have an information table open that will advertise the Investment Pathway to patients. Eventually we hope to incentivize Investment Pathway client-partner’s to use medical services, as well. It’s a long road ahead and I will be excited to see the impact I can create working with the Ada Jenkins Center.